Status of Groundwater Table Depth Under Long-Term Irrigation in Wonji Plain: Concerns for Sustainability of Wonji-Shoa Sugar Estate, Upper Awash Valley, Ethiopia

  •  Megersa Dinka    
  •  Willibald Loiskandl    
  •  Julius Ndambuki    


The present study attempted to highlight the concerns of shallow groundwater table depth (GWTD) to the sustainability of Wonji-Shoa Sugar Estate (WSSE), Upper Awash Valley of Ethiopia. The recent magnitude and fluctuation of GWTD is mapped in ArcView GIS (using universal kriging technique) from the monthly GWTD monitoring data (2007-2009) using piezometer tubes. The study result clearly showed that the GWTD at WSSE was extremely shallow, showed great spatio-seasonal variability and rising trend; thus, threatening the sustainability of WSSE significantly. About 90% of the plantation fields have GWTD above the critical depth of 1.5 m below the soil surface and, hence, critically waterlogged. As a result, the estate is recently achieving only 55% of the production potential realized in the 1960s. Past trends indicate that the GW has the potential to inundate Wonji plain and is anticipated to devastate production during the next 10-15 years. Therefore, in order to sustain production system in the region, there is an urgent need to identify the possible causes of waterlogging and investigate the feasible remedial measures to combat its problems. The spatial mapping of GWTD with identified problematic areas, indicated in the current study, is believed to provide a tool for water management and, hence, crucial for the decision making and actions taking processes.

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